How does Iodine (pill form?) help reduce the effects of radiation poisoning if you’re already irradiated?

731 views
0

How does Iodine (pill form?) help reduce the effects of radiation poisoning if you’re already irradiated?

In: Chemistry

It doesn’t. Potassium iodide does one thing and one thing only: It protects your thyroid by blocking it from taking up radioactive iodine-131 which can cause thyroid cancer. It does nothing if you take it after exposure and it doesn’t protect any other part of your body or protect you from any other radionuclide.

Iodine is naturally absorbed into the thyroid which if it’s a radioactive isotope of iodine then it can lead to damaging the thyroid or thyroid cancer.

Taking potassium iodide tablets will flood the thyroid with non-radioactive iodine which prevents the radioactive iodine from being absorbed into the thyroid. With too much iodine in the body the radioactive iodine will be quickly excreted in bodily waste.

Potassium iodide tablets only protect against damage due to radioactive iodine. It does not protect against any other radioactive materials. And it does not protect you if you’ve already been exposed to radioactive iodine. It must be taken just prior to exposure or immediately after to have any affect.

It is also not a magic pill. Flooding the thyroid with iodine is not a good thing. It in itself can damage the thyroid and cause other side effects. It’s just better than the alternative.